How to Thrive After Cancer (A Survivor’s To-Do List)

Surviving cancer is worthy of praise and applause because you did it! You beat cancer, one of the most life-threatening diseases in the world.

As a cancer survivor, your next step is to thrive. Simply “surviving,” which most dictionaries define as “continuing to live or exist, mostly in the face of hardship” is not enough. You deserve to reintegrate back into society, live your best life, and thrive.

Here’s how you can thrive after cancer.

  1. Don’t let your fear of cancer returning control you

Many survivors struggle with post-traumatic stress and concerns about cancer recurrence. Even long after completing treatment, survivors face emotional battles of fear and anxiety.

The emotional turmoil associated with cancer, even after beating it, can be overwhelming and almost inevitable unless you are mentally strong enough to shift your perspective and keep your emotions in check. The bottom line, however, is that you need to overcome your fears in order to thrive in remission.

Talking to your doctor about every health concern you have may help you cope and eventually move on to the chapter of your life. For example, your doctor may schedule you for routine tests and check-ups, helping you feel more at ease about the state of your health.

Seeing a counselor or mental health professional can also help you find ways to manage cancer-related PTS or PTSD.

  1. Take your physical therapy sessions seriously

Physical therapy has a crucial role in cancer recovery, as many patients experience limitations such as immobility in survivorship. Physical limitations can make life dull or unexciting. Being dedicated to treatment sessions and working closely with your physical therapist can help you function closer to how you did before your diagnosis and allow you to live life like cancer never happened. As long as your will is strong, nothing is impossible.

  1. Introduce yourself to a new hobby 

Doing something you enjoy can help you relax and forget about your worries, even if it’s only for a short while. If you’re not physically strong enough or greenlit by your doctor to run, garden, lift weights, or resume some of your favorite activities, you can always try something new.

Instead of worrying about cancer resurfacing, try knitting or playing video games for a change. You can even try writing and perhaps publish your own book about having and beating cancer. The goal is to enjoy a hobby or new activity that will prevent you from overthinking and getting paranoid. 

  1. Consider returning to work or finding a new job

A defining part of reintegrating back into society after cancer is a fulfilling career. If you were an employee or business owner before your diagnosis, returning to work can help redefine your life.

If you weren’t working before cancer, you can try job hunting or developing a new skill. Doing so might give you a sense of normalcy again. Even better, working and learning new skills are great ways to occupy your time.

  1. Open up and let your loved ones in

Few things in life are on par with having friends and family members who love and support you. Having emotional conversations with them can renew your confidence and help you build strong emotional support.

In addition, a 2013 study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester concluded that suppressing emotions can lead to physical stress, affecting your blood pressure, memory, and self-esteem. As such, do not hesitate to reach out when you need to talk.

  1. Get your doctor’s permission to start exercising

One of the most compelling reasons for survivors to exercise is that it may prevent cancer or its recurrence. However, before you begin a new exercise regime, discuss it with your doctor.

  1. There are going to be bad days, and that’s okay

Good and bad days are part of life. As a cancer survivor, you won’t be able to escape it and you may even be more vulnerable, having battled one of the most physically- and mentally-draining diseases. As you strive to regain your sense of normalcy, you need to realize that not every day will be a good one, and that the journey toward physical and mental recovery may be a lot more difficult than you expected.

Regardless, having a healthy combination of optimism and realism, as well as never giving up, is important to overcome the sadness and frustration that may set in on days when you are not as productive or successful.

It might help to have a strategic plan for coping with bad days. For example, spending some time talking to a loved one, going for a walk, enjoying one of your new hobbies, or doing nothing for a day may help you reboot and turn your day around.

  1. Consider joining a support group

Working closely with individuals who have had similar experiences can help you feel less lonely and isolated, as well as reduce distress, depression, anxiety, or fatigue. They are benefitting you and you are benefiting them by talking about your feelings, sharing coping strategies, and healing together through process-oriented activities.

  1. Try to let go of the past and move forward

Learning to let go of the past is an essential task if you want to thrive in cancer survivorship. However, doing so is easier said than done. If you are struggling to let go and move forward, speaking to a counselor or your general practitioner can be one of the most effective ways to thrive after cancer.

Many cancer survivors have a hard time with the unpredictability of their future. With concerns about cancer recurring, it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole of stress and despair. This to-do list for survivors like you (or someone you know) hopes to lead the way toward thriving after cancer.

New Hope Unlimited: We Treat Cancer Differently

There are over 200 types of cancer. One thing they all have in common is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells anywhere in the body — from your scalp and soles of your feet to your breasts and genitals. If you have cancer, regardless of the type and whether it’s newly diagnosed or recurrent, the medical team here at New Hope Unlimited can offer you the comprehensive care you need—care that is planned and coordinated around your physical, mental, and cognitive health needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our doctors.

Click here for our blog Disclaimer.